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Oncogene. 2007 May 10;26(21):3081-8. Epub 2006 Nov 20.

Role of 2-5A-dependent RNase-L in senescence and longevity.

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Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Cancer Center, University of Maryland, Baltimore, MD 21201, USA.


Senescence is a permanent growth arrest that restricts the lifespan of primary cells in culture, and represents an in vitro model for aging. Senescence functions as a tumor suppressor mechanism that can be induced independent of replicative crisis by diverse stress stimuli. RNase-L mediates antiproliferative activities and functions as a tumor suppressor in prostate cancer, therefore, we examined a role for RNase-L in cellular senescence and aging. Ectopic expression of RNase-L induced a senescent morphology, a decrease in DNA synthesis, an increase in senescence-associated beta-galactosidase activity, and accelerated replicative senescence. In contrast, senescence was retarded in RNase-L-null fibroblasts compared with wild-type fibroblasts. Activation of endogenous RNase-L by 2-5A transfection induced distinct senescent and apoptotic responses in parental and Simian virus 40-transformed WI38 fibroblasts, respectively, demonstrating cell type specific differences in the antiproliferative response to RNase-L activation. Replicative senescence is a model for in vivo aging; therefore, genetic disruption of senescence effectors may impact lifespan. RNase-L-/- mice survived 31.7% (P<0.0001) longer than strain-matched RNase-L+/+ mice providing evidence for a physiological role for RNase-L in aging. These findings identify a novel role for RNase-L in senescence that may contribute to its tumor suppressive function and to the enhanced longevity of RNase-L-/- mice.

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